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NYTimes
New York Times
21 Oct 2023
Tom Giratikanon


NextImg:Top 10 Hardest and Easiest Spelling Bee Words, Oct. 14-20

Note: If you plan to play Spelling Bee’s Past Puzzles from the last week, this list may contain spoilers.

This week, nonart — describing something that isn’t traditionally considered art — was the least-found word by players of Spelling Bee. Gravity was the easiest word to find (it’s certainly difficult to escape).

This data is based on visitors to Spelling Bee Buddy, a tool that shows hints and statistics for each word as you play Spelling Bee, and covers Saturday, Oct. 14, to Friday, Oct. 20. (Users of the tool are among the puzzle’s most dedicated solvers, so these percentages are probably higher than they would be for all Spelling Bee players.)

Here are the meanings of the 10 hardest words that have also been used in Times articles.

1. nonart — things that aren’t traditionally considered art:

You can also feel in Ms. Hahn’s work the impact of recent figurative painters such as Sue Williams, Lisa Yuskavage, Judith Linhares and Dana Schutz. She draws fruitfully from nonart sources as well: the cheerful flowers and artificially ecstatic women in tampon commercials; the yellow smiley face and Kool-Aid man; even the flowing facial hair of the Wookiees from “Star Wars.” Review: Heidi Hahn at the Jack Hanley Gallery (Feb. 25, 2016)

2. athwart — across, or opposed to:

Today, some schools — generally newer and smaller — advertise themselves directly as standing athwart history. “Critical Race Theory will not be included in our curriculum or teaching,” promises a new school opened by a large church in Lawrence, Kan. Christian Schools Boom in a Revolt Against Curriculum and Pandemic Rules (Oct. 19, 2021)

3. tantara — the blast of a horn or trumpet:

But the day was not yet replete with wonders, because before Zelikman could reply there were shouts from the rear and then the blatting tantara of an inhuman horn. Gentlemen of the Road (April 1, 2007)

4. arhat — one who has attained nirvana:

Twelfth-century ceramic arhats from Korea’s Goryeo kingdom look quizzically across a hall at Edo-era tea ware from Japan. — A Taiwan Museum Featuring All of Asia (Oct. 6, 2016)

5. tactual — related to touch:

“This is something you can learn so quickly,” she said. “You may not become an Olympic rider that fast, but it is a skill you can gain competence in so quickly as opposed to other sports. It’s immediate feedback. It’s amazing in terms of the tactual sense. They are accomplishing something.” When the Ordinary Gives Rise to Fiction (Nov. 28, 1999)

6. lunula — the curved white part of a fingernail’s base:

Then use a file to gently shape the sides of your nail, she said, getting rid of any sharp corners, by following the lunula, the lighter colored half moon shape at the nail base. Give Yourself the Perfect Summer Pedicure (June 27, 2020)

7. gigue — a lively dance (“jig”):

They start the show invitingly and remain a pleasure throughout, supplying the requisite sweetness and drive, along with a few unusual touches — like a Baroque gigue. Katherine Hoffman, ‘Eternal’ Florida State Figure, Dies at 105 (July 29, 2020)

8. initiate — start:

“Desire discrepancy is the No. 1 problem I deal with in my practice, and by no means is the higher-desire partner always male,” Dr. Kerner said. “But because of this myth, men often feel a sense of shame around their lack of desire, and a pressure to always initiate.” 8 Sex Myths That Experts Wish Would Go Away (Oct. 15, 2023)

9. lacuna — gap or missing part:

With a lacuna to fill about Vermeer’s life, authors, filmmakers and other artists have fed the growing fascination through creative speculation. The Fullest View of Vermeer Still Leaves Plenty to the Imagination (Feb. 3, 2023)

10. cetacean — an aquatic mammal, such as whales, dolphins and porpoises:

A major study of the Cetacean population of the Black Sea in 2019 found that there were about 200,000 harbor porpoises, 120,000 common dolphins and 20,000 to 40,000 bottlenose dolphins, Dr. Goldin said. As Dead Dolphins Wash Ashore, Ukraine Builds a Case of Ecocide Against Russia (Aug. 17, 2023)

The list of the week’s easiest words:

Each morning, you can see which of the day’s Spelling Bee words are stumping the hivemind (without spoilers!), and track your remaining words, by visiting Spelling Bee Buddy.